Chicagoland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade 2019


, , , , ,

So, it’s been a while. Time to get back to wondering, wandering and weird stuff! It has been way too long!  Actually, I wandered out my front door with my dog and bumped into a neighbor. Her and her son were making a quick potty break before the big Chicagoland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade…or Bikers being rather festive and feisty and donating Toys for Tots…this is one of the largest bike parades and happens annually on the first Sunday of December And it’s…weird and a good cause and just down the street on Western Ave. I ran back to the house and grabbed my gear, well my camera gear.

Wow, what a turnout on this typical gray Chicago winter day. The bikers did not disappoint. Of course, if you know me, my fave riders were the Grinch-themed guys. (The Grinch That Stole Christmas is my all-time fave holiday cartoon – I still watch it every year and it never gets old.)

Well done Chicago riders – the parade was really a great way to kick off a gloomy Sunday!

Keep wandering. Keep wondering…and keepin’ it a little weird.
Michele Marie

To view the complete album on my Facebook page click here

North Avenue Beach House


, , , , ,

Well, I was running late again. It was Sunday and I had hoped to catch up with a Chicago for Chicagoans Old Town neighborhood tour hosted by Liz Gariboy (Pub Crawl Liz) from my new obsession, the Old Town Ale House podcasts…but I was listening to the latest podcast and putzing, relaxing with my daughter and well, time slipped by and I had to literally run out of the house…and note to self…and to you. North Avenue on Sunday afternoons is a traffic nightmare. I made the mistake of following Siri’s advice to take North Avenue to Sedgwick…Unless you have an emergency need for home furnishings or an appointment at the Apple Bar…avoid this area…So in my frenzy, I drove by the meeting place, went to the wrong location and by the time I circled back I was at least 30 minutes late and too embarrassed to try to track the tour group down. Actually, kind of a normal situation for me lately. Sigh….
Anyway, I had my camera with me and the sun was shining so I decided to wander through Lincoln Park. Now I just recently moved back to Chicago and I haven’t spent any time by the lake. I was just reminiscing with my 14 y/o daughter what a rollerblading goddess I used to be…oh…20ish years ago…spending the day rolling along the Lake Shore Drive, navigating the sidewalks of the Gold Coast and dining or cocktailing outside during the summer…which inspired me to head over to the North Avenue Beach area. I almost made the mistake of pulling into the parking in the lot…$19.00 for 1 hour or less? Really? When did your impending robbery amount get posted? Quickly I pulled around to the circle drive, over the curb, and parked by the other 2 smart people enjoying the lake in their cars, not parked in $19/hour parking.
I got out of the car and wandered up by the beach, it was about 25 degrees, crisp and clear. The North Avenue Beach House hadn’t changed in 20 years. It looks like a vintage ship floating on the sand and I love the contrast of the white and blue details. I wondered when this ship-like thing was originally built. The art moderne (reminds me of art deco) “Life Guard” or “Lifeguard” signs making an ironic winter statement. The different but complimentary shades of lake blue and sky blues combined with the beach sand was a blast of calm nostalgia. There really is something very calming and magical about a deserted beach in the winter. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who thought so. As I wandered and wondered, a few more cars pulled up and unloaded. Looked like they were setting up for a photo shoot. I couldn’t quite make out the the ethnic attire details from a distance, but I saw the models slipping white, full skirted dresses over their clothes, the camera person heading off down the walkway…or maybe it was a wedding shoot? Who knows…
It ended up being worth it to change course and wander with my camera and enjoy the winter beach and calm waters of Lake Erie. Kinda felt like a little welcome home hug.
Keep wandering. Keep wondering…and keepin’ it a little weird.
Michele Marie

The Chicago Flag building on Division St.


, , , , ,

20180919-ChiFlag-DivSt_1007-Edit-2I’ve been driving by this empty lot for the past few weeks. It’s en route to my daughter’s school, around the 1800ish block of Division St. Each time I see it and the building with the bigger-than-life Chicago Flag mural, I think I just love that and need to take a picture! Today I finally did. And, bonus! I met the artists who created the mural.
Which in a very round about way is a great start/restart to my blog. I just moved back to Chicago with my daughter last month…I’ll bore you with that story another day. But, I think I have been waiting for the perfect day or perfect photo opp to photograph this artsy building. Which is really a bad habit that I have been trying break. Procrastination or the habit of waiting for the illusion of perfection to “launch”. The “it’s not the right time. I’m too busy. Too many other responsibilities. I don’t have the extra time/money/energy. No one will buy it. Or like it…” you know, that little voice that talks to us constantly, reinforcing our insecurity and fears. And, if we don’t learn to stand up and say, yes, you have a point, little annoying voice, but I’m gonna do it anyway…We will never launch…start…finish…explore…whatever your playbook is prescribing.
So, I stopped. Used my iPhone camera (as #ChaseJarvis would say, ‘the best camera is the one you have with you’…which I’ve always believed 100%).
Not only did I stop and get a cool image with the sun hitting just right, but the side door was open and the guys were working so I popped in to see if they knew anything about the property.  Is it private, could I do a photoshoot there, etc. Well, turned out two of the men were not only the owners, Rodrigo and Cesar, but also brothers, owners of CR Realty, and the painters. They were inspired to add back to their neighborhood and clean up their piece of it. And boy did they. It’s a mural that is so simple, but such a bright and positive statement on one of Chicago’s ever-changing and sometimes not so pretty landscapes. Division St. They painted the iconic Chicago Flag. (click to read about the flags symbolism)

Rodrigo & Cesar

Big. Bold. Bright. Positive.
Thank you for sharing your passion for the neighborhood.
So, don’t wait for perfection. Park the car. Take the picture. Say hi to your neighbors…you never know who or what synchronicity is waiting to happen.
Keep Wandering. Keep Wondering. Keep it Weird.
Michele Marie KW

Goin’ to The Dogs in Warsaw

First Fridays Warsaw.  Spring Break 2017 – time to get out and explore…just ignore the weather!

5x7 postcard

Stop by and meet the owners of this charming wine cafe, Michelle & Chad. Michelle has put together a wonderful selection of local wines…I’ve personally tasted a couple. The shop is also home to two fabulous little rescue dogs, Lily & Lola. They hang out during regular hours, but stay home during special events or Saturday Rescue Dog Day.

On Rescue Saturdays, the shop hosts a different rescue animal from 11-1pm, educating you on the who, what & where of local rescue efforts…and maybe finding a ‘furever home’ for a lucky fur baby.

Last weeks rescues were from American Greyhound.

Check out the action – click here.

More to come…


Michele Marie

New Year’s Resolution – Make More Personal Prints


, , ,

So tonight, again, I was reminded how important it is to print some of your images regularly.

Printed pictures are the written words of our mind’s memories (I just made that up, but I’m sure I read something like it somewhere). They jog or nudge our mind to remember an event, a day, a person, even an emotion.

For as long as we have been walking around this earth, we have been drawing, painting, snapping images of moments in time to help retell our stories.

It says we were here, we made a mark, we matter, we lived, we loved and we connected. And, we want to remember and share our memories. Telling stories – painting pictures with words is a gift – adding pictures makes it that much more priceless.20161011-HoneyLoLo-blog-2001

The picture above is a lost moment from years ago. I rediscovered it when I was cleaning out the guest room for my new renter. At first I was struck by memories of my mother – she passed away 4 years ago. Then I thought how lucky I was to have this printed image. A lot of ups and downs in 2015. Rediscovering this print on January 1st, 2016 was like receiving a hug from my mom saying “2016 will be better. Everything is okay.”

Next I started remembering the details of the day the image was taken. I used to travel to Key West monthly with my daughter. Sometimes I’d pick up my mom in Lakeland and we would drive down together. A 7-hour drive usually took about 10 hours with a toddler and 2 shoppers.

On this particular day we decided to take my then 4 year old daughter to the beach for a picnic of raspberries, cookies and a Key West sunset. You can see my daughter’s little green toy sand wagon in the lower corner. I remember bringing my tripod, hoping to get a sunset portrait of all 3 of us. I don’t think my daughter had the same plan. As a matter of fact, I think she was the one taking the picture – thus getting the best smile out of HoneyLoLo (my daughter’s name for my mom – but that’s another story).

So glad I printed this image. Guess I should frame it, but for now I have a story to share with my little girl eight years later.

Keep clickin’ & printin’

Cheers & Happy New Year!

Michele Marie

A Visit with Santa & the Wabash County Historical Museum


, , ,


So, last weekend I got the call. Santa needed a photographer for his visit to the Wabash County Historical Museum. I was very honored, grabbed my gear and headed North – well actually, South to Wabash, Indiana.

I had never stepped inside the Museum. Wow. Was I in for an incredible treat. My daughter had been there twice for school excursions. She said it was pretty fab. And she was right – I was amazed at the Museum’s incredible 2 floors of county history. All laid out in a very contemporary and amazingly decorated building.






But wait! There’s more! In addition to Santa’s visit, it was Family Fun Day – free admission, crafts, treats, music and history. What more could you ask for?


Winner of best cheeks ever!







To really get into the holiday spirit and see more of the amazing holiday decorations, click here and take a video tour. (I am told that the decorating was designed by a most talented local and took him and his many elves about a month to complete.)

Enjoy the tour and make time to visit the Wabash County Historical Museum in Wabash, Indiana.

Keep Clickin’ & Printin’ those memories!


Michele Marie


I hear Violins & Guitars


, , ,

mia-reciatal hall

Manchester University campus

Last week I attended my daughter’s Suzuki Violin recital. (I won’t embarrass her by posting her playing, however proud of her I may be 😉

mia-on stage

on stage

Linda Kummernuss has been teaching my daughter for 4 years. She has many very talented students – and it has been a pleasure to see my daughter and her other students talents grow over the years.


2015 Suzuki Violin Recital

Linda, however, rarely shares her talents with us, except in snippets during a lesson – never wanting to take away from her students. Today we got to see a different side of her, from teacher to performer.


Linda has started a new music adventure with a musical partner, Ken Preston. Ken is a guitar player who has been writing music and was looking for a partner. Together they write and perform original pieces. Ken starts the process with a song, words and vision and Linda adds to the magic the violin part to complete the ensemble. We were treated with an original composition, “Hold Me”, today.  Enjoy their performance here:

Ken Preston & Linda Kummernuss – “Hold Me”

It’s always fun to see how different people connect, create and grow.


Michele Marie

Eel River Arts Festival – Time for a Fall Fun Photo Booth


, , ,

I decided to ‘pop-up’ this weekend at the annual Eel River Arts Festival here in lil ol’ North Manchester. And I am so glad I did! It turned out to be a perfect fall day with lots of friendly, smiling faces; talented & creative artists, amazing musicians and good food.



All day I talked and photographed the non-suspecting art fair attendee. Hee hee. Pulled them into the photobooth and had a mini-fall portrait session…here are a few of the images:


Bribery is always a win-win in my rule book.










Brave Tutu-wearing boys






Grandma & the g-kids


and more sisters!


even sisters with little bro


ornery sisters


If you want to catch all the action and some of the music, you can view my video here MicheleMarieKW on the YouTube.

Festival season is still happening – get out there, enjoy the weather, the people and share some pics!


Michele Marie

Shopping & Exploring Indiana Rt. 13


, , , , , , ,

It’s finally the weekend. So we, me and my 2 young assistants, filled our water bottles with lemonade and headed out to the local farmer’s market to start our day of exploring locally. We decided to get out of the house and shop Rt. 13 by heading North to Pierceton, North Webster and Syracuse – all in Kosciusko Co. Indiana. The goal for this trip was to gather ideas, inspiration and fresh air. Kind of a real-time, get-off-the-couch Pinterest date.

First stop was right in our backyard at the very local North Manchester’s Farmer’s Market which has started a few weeks earlier than usual. Not too much on the produce this week, but a great selection of plants and baked goods and rhubarb. If only I liked to make pies? The girls scored a chocolate chip banana bread – good road trip food. They even shared a bite or two with me.

20150516-Shopping-RT13_3006 20150516-Shopping-RT13_3003

North Manchester's Farmers Market

North Manchester’s Farmers Market

20150516-Shopping-RT13_3004 20150516-Shopping-RT13_3005 20150516-Shopping-RT13_3007 20150516-Shopping-RT13_3008 20150516-Shopping-RT13_3010

The weather was perfect for a drive, a little overcast, but the rain held off. Now you have to understand, I’m driving with two 5th grade fashionistas who get bored very quickly. I wasn’t sure if they were really going to get into the antiques, vintage stuff and who knows what in the small towns we were headed to. And I was really feeling the urge to explore and hang with creative peeps.  And you know what? We had a perfect day. A little bit of eye candy for everyone – antiques, jewelry and hipster collectibles for me – a video game, resale clothes and strawberry crepes for my two lovely assistants.

We covered a lot of ground (North Manchester, Pierceton, North Webster & Syracuse – Indiana), took a lot of pictures, talked with each amazing shopkeepers and bought a few treasures. Usually, I would write more and share more images from the day in my blog, but today I’m trying something a bit new. I’m sharing links to all the places we visited below and a video/slideshow from our day:


Shopping & Exploring Indiana Rt. 13

Enjoy the show. Keep making memories and sharing.


Michele Marie


Resources/Links: store info

Portrait Strolling with Todd


, ,

Location portraiture. Loving it on a casual Sunday session!Under the Stairs


The Home Studio – I’m very lucky to live in such a photogenic place.

What I love about location photography is that any location can be interesting, appropriate and beautiful. We used to think when we needed a portrait for the annual family memory, Senior Portrait or business profile, “we HAVE to go to the Portrait Studio”. With changes in the wedding industry to more exotic destinations with ‘picture perfect’ settings being the norm, the simple portrait also became more relaxed and more location focused vs. studio based.

Location Portraiture became hipper than formal Studio Photography (no offense to my studio photographer friends – trust me, they are still hip and amazingly creative). My twist on the location portrait is taking my client for a Portrait Stroll. What’s different from the Location Portrait is that we explore together a city block or neighborhood while we photograph. This adds to the interest and creativity of the session and the final images.


Just for fun – even a barricade can be cool on a Photo Stroll.

I’ve specialized in location portraiture pretty much always. First as a wedding photographer-I’ve never dragged a backdrop to a wedding-totally unnecessary; and, then second as location portrait artist. As location shooting became hip and accepted, the focus on the session was location with me, the photographer, coming to you at your home or a special location.


The Classic at Cigar Factory door.

Today your online, visual resume is just as important as excellent references. Todd came to me and needed to update his LinkedIn profile and resume – he’s job hunting. Instead of setting up in the studio with a boring blue background and Todd dressed in a dark suit and tie, we headed out in my rural town of North Manchester, Indiana. Todd dressed a bit more casual – jacket & jeans, he’s IT by the way.

In the Alley - thank you to Shannon & Missy for the cool garage backdrop.

In the Alley – thank you to Shannon & Missy for the cool garage backdrop.


We strolled around my home studio yard and alley, then moved downtown to explore the alleys and old architecture. It was relaxed, fun,  interactive and I think the results speak for the process.

stairs2 understairs


The Iron Staircase – timeless patina and beauty.

Creative but Simple. Edgy but Relaxed. Hip but Classic.

Where will your next Portrait Stroll lead?


Michele Marie